"Cruel?" Zhang Shan laughed. 'Cold' would have been an understandable description, but 'cruel,' wasn't that too much?
Meng Tian glanced at him and said, "A hundred and one people took part in the last training camp, and 61 of them dropped out halfway. Of these 61 people, 20 are still lying on hospital beds in the intensive care unit at Alliance Hospital."
Zhang Shan twitched. They had been in the hospital for a year?
"The results from the last batch were not satisfactory, so the level of intensity for this year's training program will definitely go up. Do you know how the Solar System trained to breakthrough to become one of the top 20?" Zhang Runan spoke too. It was evident that she had looked closely into the subject.
Zhang Shan shook his head. "I don't wanna know. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss."
Wang Zheng chuckled. "Who cares? With so many elites out there, we're unimportant."
The three of them looked at Wang Zheng. This lad was blindly humble when he shouldn't be. But now that he said that, they all felt better.
"That's true. We're definitely not going to be their targets." Meng Tian smiled weakly.
After having been through Bonehead's hellish training, no matter how tough or tiring things got, it would still feel heavenly to Wang Zheng.
The next day. Beijing's Space Elevator.
No ground buildings in any other city looked more magnificent than this elevator. At 1,800 meters tall, the grand facade could be seen anywhere, anytime. Blocks and blocks of elevators disappeared into the ozone layer at top speed, and blocks and blocks descended from back into the building, led by the ultra-fiber guiding cables.
The whole process was just like the elevators in a Ferris Wheel building, just that there were only 2 "levels" in the space elevator: Earth and an orbitally aligned space city.
To get to the moon, there were two modes of transportation. One was for the wealthy. They'd book a mini business class spaceship to fly directly from Earth to the Moon. It was convenient, but very expensive.
The other way was much more cost effective and economical. Anybody could easily afford it. Take the space elevator and arrive at the space city. Then, pay a nominal amount on the space city and you could make your way onto the Moon. The problem was, there were many checkpoints to go through.
Wang Zheng and Zhang Shan arrived at the space elevator building. Here, they only had to swipe the transport card built into their Skylinks to board the elevator.
Zhang Shan carried with him a huge bag that was filled with all sorts of Earth's products.
But moments later, Zhang Shan, with the bulging haversack, dropped his jaw. He gaped as Zhang Runan made her way over, carrying an enormous backpack that was over a meter tall.
"Sorry I'm late."
Tian appeared from behind. Zhang Shan gulped. For the first time ever, Zhang Runan had completely overshadowed Meng Tian. He didn't even notice Meng Tian following behind Runan!
"We were early." Wang Zheng smiled.
It was the first time Wang Zheng was going to leave Earth. He found a window seat and sat down. In terms of service and comfort level, it wasn't much different from city transport.
But looking out of the window and seeing the buildings become smaller and smaller, there was a special feeling that grew within him.
As the gravitational field of Earth gradually weakened, the gravity generator in the space elevator made a humming noise. It was activated to counteract the fainting force of gravity in the elevator. This was what leaving Earth felt like.
At her seat, Zhang Runan unpacked her one-meter-tall backpack. There were tons of meat jerky snacks. There was a reason why she was so strong!
The elevator arrived at the Asian District Space City. When Wang Zheng and his friends arrived, they went to the observation deck in the space station. The boundless galaxy was opened up to them and a sea of blue was right below their feet. That was Earth. The impact of looking at this with their own eyes was definitely not something that could be felt through looking at high definition pictures.
But right now, nobody had the mood to enjoy this view. Instead, they hastened their pace and made their way to the transport hub in the city.
The Space City was generally not much different from Earth. Even the man-made gravitational force was modelled to be exactly the same as Earth's. Above, the ceiling was filled with high definition projected displays of blue skies and fluffy, white clouds. On the surface, there was plenty of greenery. It was a beautiful environment, where technology and greenery were perfectly put together. People were rushing from place to place, creating a highly effective atmospheric image in the city.
They went straight to the Moon's depot station. Here, a large ship left for the Moon every five minutes. But to board the ship, they had to go through an identity check. For ordinary citizens, it meant a very long wait.
But for students from military schools, they could go through visa-free.
The ticketed ship was just like a cable car. A laser light that never went out pointed to the position of the Moon's base, and the ships were all guided by the light. This was a fixed but busy route. At any one point, other ships that did not have the proper permits had to stay at least a 100 kilometers away from the path no matter what.
The ship arrived at the Moon very quickly. After only 45 minutes, Wang Zheng and friends had come to the Moon's space port.
There was someone waiting for them at the platform. A pretty girl held a sign that said: "Welcome, Earth's IG contestants".
"Are you the seniors who are here to take part in IG?" The girl smiled brightly.
"Yes, we're from Ares College. How do we address you?" Zhang Shan put out his hand, smiling.
The girl shook it gently. "Hello, seniors, I'm Mixiu from Moonlight College. I'm a chaperone. The seniors from Zeus and Apollo college have arrived."
"We're freshmen too, not seniors. Please show us the way, Student Mixiu," Wang Zheng said.
Mixiu gave them a sweet smile. "Please follow me."
Not far away, a magnetic bus was waiting for them. The bus was printed with the Moonlight College's logo everywhere.
On board the bus, the four introduced themselves. Mixiu was a cheerful girl. She said, "Sister Meng Tian, you're so pretty."
Such a bubbly girl. Meng Tian chuckled. "You're very pretty, too."
"Bus driver, please open up the sky window, I'd like to show our guests the view," Mixiu said. The bus' top opened, and the Moon's scenery appeared in front of everybody's eyes.
Beijing was considered one of the top cities on Earth, but compared to Moonlight City, it was rather shabby. In the short development history of the Moon, Moonlight City did, in fact, have a "long history". Yet Moonlight City was not even involved in some of the more significant battles.
The reason was that this was also the Moon's political and financial center. At one point, it also housed the Mankind Federation's headquarters. But as galactic navigation developed and strategic cores shifted, the Solar System faded out. But even then, Moonlight City unquestionably remained as one of the top hundred cities in the Milky Way.
At their roots, Moon people were once genetically modified to be superior. But under the technological limitations faced, there were plenty of side-effects. It was through natural selection and evolution that the situation improved and stabilised, eventually leading up to the high level of genetic capabilities they possessed today. The average level was above the galactic average, but even though they had the capabilities, they were not fated to lead.
During the periods where the Moon prospered, they were within reach of the peak, but they were beaten by the Earth or Mars people. Afterwards, more competitors got into the picture, and yet still only the Moon remained competitive. They were since nicknamed "Forever Number 2".
"So many pretty girls everywhere." Zhang Shan giggled. "The Moon's atmosphere has got to be nourishing."
Mixiu smiled. "The Moon's temperature is constant; there are hardly any changes. But it lacks the Earth's excitement. I stay on Earth for some time every year."
Wang Zheng leaned back on his seat. As he looked up at the sky, he felt relaxed. Naturally, he stretched, as if becoming one with the world.
It was a wonderful feeling, but it was clear that the Moon had a very shallow world of nature that could not even be compared to Earth's. If you experienced such a tingling feeling on Earth, you would feel greatness. However, there was nothing on the Moon to make you bow down.
"Wang Zheng, I heard you were the MVP at the exchange between military schools on Earth. I very much look forward to your performance this time," Mixiu said, while sizing Wang Zheng up.
"MVP? I don't know anything about that, we came here to learn." Wang Zheng smiled.
"This lad's always like this, don't listen to him. We came here to beat everybody," Zhang Shan said boldly, his arms wide open. "Moon girls, here I come!"
His three companions rolled their eyes. Mixiu was astounded. What...
Zhang Runan kicked Zhang Shan back onto his seat. "Stop embarrassing us. Behave."
"Superman, we are friends, yeah, but if you do that again, I'm taking you on, one on one!" Zhang Shan yelled.
Zhang Runan didn't even glance at him, she just munched on her snacks. "Sure."
"Sister Runan is so cool!" Mixiu exclaimed.
This girl looked like she had ill intentions. It was very likely that she was here to fish for information.
The Moon was clean and beautiful, but Wang Zheng felt that everything was too exquisite. It'd be enjoyable to stay for some time, but in the long run, he'd run berserk.
"Has Achilles arrived?" Meng Tian asked.
Upon hearing this name, Mixiu's eyes lit up. They were filled with admiration and idolisation. "His Highness the Sun God has arrived. I'm really jealous that you get to take part in the same contest as him!"
"The Sun God! What a name! What does that guy do?" Zhang Shan asked in disdain. How old was this kid? To think he called himself a god.
Mixiu looked at him pitifully, "That's because you haven't seen him. Anybody would definitely bow down to the Sun's rays."
Zhang Shan shook his head. So she was just a silly, smitten girl.
"She's not exaggerating. Achilles is the most highly ranked among the young generation in the Solar System. The nickname is not unacceptable," Meng Tian said.
"What? How come I have never heard of him?" Zhang Shan scratched his head. Seemed like his was not kept up to date.
"Masasi is his underling," Meng Tian went on.
"Damn, really? This guy is that great? What about Earth? Where would I rank?" Zhang Shan asked.
Mixiu giggled. "Senior Zhang Shan, only those who can make it into Academy X are fit to enter the Milky Way Potential Ranking. Earth's strongest is Lear. Nicknamed King Lear. He's very powerful."
Zhang Shan was stunned. What was all that? It was as if he had been living in an entirely different world.